BC asks: “Can you tell me if the KonMari Method of tidying up is safe for a Christian?”
BC is referring to the latest fad in housecleaning known as the KonMari Method. It was invented by a Japanese neatness guru named Marie Kondo. She is the author the best-selling book, The Lifesaving Magic of Tidying Up.
While there is nothing wrong with learning how to fold clothes to make them fit better in a drawer, and discarding items that you deem worthless in order to declutter your home, Kondo takes things a bit further.
She employs the Japanese divination practice known as feng shui which is based on the Taoist belief that the land and inanimate objects are alive and filled with chi – a universal life force for which there is no scientific backing.
Feng shui relies on the principles of the divinatory tool known as I Ching and is used to orient buildings and determine which areas of the home are “positive” or “negative” depending on how the furniture is arranged, which direction the house is facing, etc. These superstitions are applied to everything from where to hang a mirror to where the stove and sink should be placed in a kitchen. All of this is intended to make a home more harmonious and peaceful.
Kondo, 30, embarked on her career of tidying homes at the tender age of five when feng shui was all the rage in Japan. According to NYMag.com, she got a part-time job at a Shinto shrine at the age of 18 where she was charged with keeping the shrine tidy and selling lucky charms at a kiosk. She went to college and where she studied sociology and wrote a thesis entitled, “How to Declutter Your Apartment” from a sociological perspective. She later went to work as a consultant and published her first book in 2010.
Sales were okay until the horrendous earthquake and tsunami of 2011 when the country suffered catastrophic property losses. As Kondo’s editor, Tomohiro Takahashi, told NYMag, “The Japanese people suddenly had to ask themselves what was important in their lives. What was the true value of sentimental items? What was the meaning of the items they’d lost? What was the meaning of life?”
Sales of Kondo’s book exploded in the quake’s aftermath.
Kondo’s overarching concept is to throw out anything in your house that doesn’t bring you joy. And the way you assess this is by physically holding the item in your hand because the body responds if something sparks joy.
While the book has plenty of practical advice, such as instructions on how to fold clothes to make more drawer space and how kitchen sponges are to be kept under the sink, it also makes some questionable suggestions such as how leaving piles of loose change around the house is “disrespectful”. Kondo also speaks about inanimate objects, such as socks, as if they’re alive.
For instance, she says socks “take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet.. The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest," she writes.
While it’s certainly okay to adopt her folding techniques and other common-sense recommendations, anything that attributes life to an inanimate object should be discarded as superstition.